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Worst free agent signings

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Although prominent players such as Alexander Semin and Shane Doan remain unsigned, the bulk of the NHL’s free agent deals already have been made. Which players inked the worst deals of the summer? That’s the focus of this week’s Top 10:

10. Olli Jokinen, Winnipeg (two years, $9 million)

Jokinen isn’t a bad player and certainly provides the Jets with the big-bodied center they need. However, a 50-percent raise on the $3 million the 33-year-old made in Calgary last year isn’t the most cost-efficient deal, especially when you see Jokinen scored just six more goals and seven more points than he did in 2010-11.

9. Jonas Gustavsson, Detroit (two years, $3 million)

Perhaps the organizational Midas Touch in Detroit will rub off on Gustavsson, who had some tough luck on the health front in his three years in Toronto. But a two-year commitment to a goalie who has never had an NHL save percentage above .902 is a considerable gamble for Wings GM Ken Holland, even if Gustavsson only plays a handful of games as Jimmy Howard’s backup.

8. (tie) Micheal Haley, Rangers/Krys Barch, Devils (Haley: two years, $1.2 million; Barch: two years, $1.5 million)

The salaries of both tough guys are relatively the same, but the length of the pacts is the problem here. Was there really that much of a market for Haley (who has two goals and three points in 43 career NHL games) and Barch (who has 31 points in 304 games) that both Atlantic division teams needed to tack on a second year to their deals? And what kind of upside-down NHL world is it when future Hall-of-Famer Jaromir Jagr can only land a one-year contract and these guys get twice as much term?

7. Brandon Prust, Canadiens (four years, $10 million)

The Canadiens needed to get tougher to play against and the gritty Prust will help in that regard. That said, the 28-year-old will make $2.5 million a year – a more than 300-percent raise on the $800,000 he made in Manhattan in 2011-12 – which is more than a little overgenerous given the fact he scored eight fewer goals and 12 fewer points than he did in 2010-11.

6. Filip Kuba, Panthers (two years, $8 million)

Last year, Kuba had 32 points and was a plus-26 for the Senators. The season prior to that, he had just 16 points and was a minus-26. Also, in 2011-12, his blueline partner was Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson. Think the 35-year-old will continue that stellar play without Karlsson in Florida? If you do, you’re one of a select few.

5. Sheldon Souray, Ducks (three years, $11 million)

After a disastrous stint in Edmonton led to him being buried in the American League for the 2010-11 campaign, Souray was one of the NHL’s best comeback stories last season in Dallas. Still, giving a three-year contract to a 36-year-old who hasn’t played more than 64 games since 2008-09 isn’t a guarantee of bang for your buck.

4. Paul Gaustad, Predators (four years, $13 million)

The Sabres missed Gaustad’s grit when they dealt him to Nashville at the trade deadline, but they didn’t miss him enough to outbid the Preds on a pact that increases his salary from the $2.3 million he made in 2011-12 to a whopping $3.25 million. That’s quite the payday for a 30-year-old who amassed just seven goals and 21 points last year. 

3. David Jones, Colorado (four years, $16 million)

Jones was a revelation for the Avalanche when the ninth-round pick scored 27 goals and 45 points for them in 2010-11. Last year, his numbers dropped to 20 goals and 37 points (in five fewer games). So why was there any need to lock him up for four years at $4 million per? Yes, there’s a possibility he continues to develop and improves his totals, but there’s an equal likelihood he becomes less effective. Seems especially risky for a franchise that is no longer one of the NHL’s big spenders.

2. Matt Carkner, Islanders (three years, $4.5 million)

The 31-year-old Carkner was a healthy scratch for 20 of Ottawa’s final 26 regular season games and finished the year with one goal and three assists in 29 games. Somehow, that (and his tough-guy persona) landed him an astonishing three-year pact with the Isles that more than doubles his 2011-12 salary of $700,000. The more you stare directly at the terms of this contract and attempt to understand it, the more you risk disappearing inside an Apocalypse Now-style intellectual sinkhole.

1. Dennis Wideman, Flames (*five years, $26.3 million)

With only Ryan Suter and Matt Carle ahead of him on the depth chart of unrestricted free agent defensemen this summer, Wideman was going to get paid big money by some team. Unfortunately for Calgary fans, that team was the increasingly desperate Flames, who gave the 29-year-old a raise of more than $1.25 million a season despite him being a combined minus-41 over the past three years. There’s a reason Wideman is about to play on his fourth NHL team in as many seasons and the deal he got from Calgary GM Jay Feaster makes him all but untradeable for the foreseeable future.

*Edit update.

The Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on

Adam Proteau is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to His Power Rankings appear Mondays, his column appears Thursdays and his Ask Adam feature Fridays.



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